Crop Protection seminar

Cereals in an evolving era of crop protection:
A practical look at how farmers can adapt their toolkit to improve productivity and enhance environmental protection.

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Crop protection


Murray Smedley, Managing Director, Barkwith Associates 

As we enter a new era of crop protection, how is the tool kit available to growers evolving? If the UK diverges from EU regulation on PPPs, what impact will this have on competitiveness? Will the UK continue to abide by a precautionary principle of regulation? What impact will this have for farmers on the ground? What new PPPs are on the horizon to combat these challenges?

Teresa Meadows, Knowledge Exchange Manager, AHDB

IPM is widely discussed but less widely adopted: Why is that the case? What is holding the industry back? What changes will farmers need to make when taking steps to adopt IPM?

Harry Fordham: Syngenta New Farming Technologies Lead (UK & NW Europe)

Technological advances are reshaping how arable farming will look in the next five years and will increasingly drive decision-making on-farm.

How can technology provide a helping hand? What new technologies are on the horizon for farmers? How can technology improve pesticide efficacy, improve profitability and enhance environmental protection?

Attendees watching live got to ask the experts their questions, find them below!

Murray Smedley – it would seem less likely and dependent upon the commercial value v GB only registration costs.

Harry Fordham – if the opportunity is available and GB will allow registration then I would suggest we could use that and look at doing so. It does depend on what approach CRD takes and if they will allow this of course.

Caroline Drummond – IPM single action would be that more actives are taken off the approvals list forcing change fast – I am not advocating this, but shocks drive innovation! it is not just one simple approach it has to the be appropriate, balanced and integrated approach that is key – here are the 8 steps Step 1 Prevention and Suppression
Step 2 Monitoring
Step 3 Decisions based on Monitoring and Thresholds
Step 4 Non-Chemical Methods
Step 5 Pesticide Selection
Step 6 Reduced Pesticide Use
Step 7 Anti-Resistance Strategies
Step 8 Evaluation

Harry Fordham – it will depend on what levels of control are on the label and if levels of control are claimed. The market in this area is moving quickly and changing. So I suspect this will change the approach of the regulators also. I suspect @Murray Smedley may have more of a view on this as well.

Teresa Meadows – Agreed, consumer perception is important and how we can communicate what we are doing. Darren Schreurs in Australia was using beneficial insects in lettuce crops but struggling with these still being present in the crop and packaging. Not a concern for the consumer, better for the environment, but the concept of having an insect in their lettuce was a difficult message to convey. They are now working on the packaging (an open bag at key times of the year to let the insects fly out) and the messaging. An interesting short video about this here:

Teresa Meadows – Decision support tools will certainly be a useful tool in the future – monitoring, use of forecasting, thresholds and having confidence in decisions going forward is going to be imperative.

Caroline Drummond – agree but recent evidence from WHICH have clearly demonstrated that ‘citizens’ do not want UK farmers standards compromised or reduced – we have an increasing amount of demands of all the services we offer as farmers behind the food as you say, food safety, quality, quantity, environmental protection and enhancement, water quality, carbon sequestration = the list goes on. It is going to have to be key that as the recession bites the solutions to reducing the challenges of poverty are not connected to food pricing and a drive for ever reducing prices. There is a poverty issue and it is a bigger society challenge.

Murray Smedley – certainly the UK can no longer claim ‘made in the EU’. Hopefully 2020 has enthused the public to consider the origin of their food, with a greater emphasis on locally grown.

Caroline Drummond – The whole labelling issue is certainly under review remember that some 50% of food is purchased out of the home/supermarkets and it unlabelled there is a huge opportunity for encouraging public procurement to be more committed to UK sourced food. The carbon issue is more complex, as the real benefit it that UK farmers are delivering broader environmental benefits too and the carbon footprint assessments are complex. COVID19 has driven people to move locally and also the millennial and following generations are really committed to the climate change action and interested in food and its provenance so yes there are some real opportunities ahead for growing self-sufficiency and delivering healthy sustainable farming and diets

Harry Fordham – re getting shared between manufacturers, we are not allowed to share data due to GDPR. The challenge users of this tech face is getting machinery and computers to talk to each other relatively seamlessly. This currently isn’t the case and we have all come up against issues of trying to get a prescription map from office to machine for example. The work we are involved with is trying to integrate that approach and ensure that using digital tech is as easy as possible for the user. This will help maximise the value and practical use of these tools

Teresa Meadows – The role of supermarkets and their position to drive change is an interesting one. From the people I have spoken to growing kiwifruit, cotton and many wider products – it is often the supermarkets/market access/retailer demand that has driven change (and sometimes financial incentives too) in the uptake of IPM. How might this work for us in the arable sector? And will the same drivers mean an uptake of UK food to improve carbon footprints/achieve net zero as you suggest? RE where incentives should be placed – I think that different incentives will work for different people and so imperative to have a range of measures available. Tailoring that incentive to the stakeholder will be important, but also buy-in across the supply chain on a topic is going to be important too. In our arable systems where we are further away to the final consumer with the products – how many incentives might come from the supermarket/merchant/consumer? Something that I would like to look into more.

Caroline Drummond – re which approaches have increased IPM uptake in the UK – a few from our experiences include – better diagnostics, accepting risks against thresholds, monitoring, and increase in protecting cropping – mainly in the horticultural sector, the introduction of biologicals, and the introduction of natural field borders, beetle banks, etc for starters

Harry Fordham – absolutely the efficacy needs to be reliable so people have confidence in using the options available

Harry Fordham – DSS for septoria is a good example and the systems we are developing is looking at multiple diseases and ensuring that the risk factors for all the diseases are clear. This will then allow decisions to be made around the targets they are aiming for and the risks they deem to be highest. Whether it means more applications is tricky to answer, with regards to IPM we would like to ensure all factors are taken into account regarding risk. e.g variety, location etc. If the support system allows more accurately timed spraying then chemistry could be used more effectively and efficiently

Harry Fordham – good comment we do have some of the best operators in the world and that is something we are proud of. The introduction of Closed transfer is a great example of reducing risk, the risk is already minimised through training and knowledge but if we can help with that its got to be a good thing in terms of a responsible manufacturer. Will it mean we can re-introduce products, its hard to say at the moment, but once we demonstrate the benefits of it to CRD then it could be a possibility.

Caroline Drummond – the WHICH research was done through representative samples with additional panels. As you allude to citizens are different from shoppers and those that make the purchasing decisions. At the Sainsburys conference yesterday their shoppers are looking not only price but also ethical choices are among the top values in food, we have high standards here in the UK that is our opportunity to build trust and understanding among consumers domestically and for our export markets

Caroline Drummond – re IPM premiums on cereals – lots of opportunity and we have seen some in specialist flour for local markets for LEAF Marque and Integrated Farm Management of which IPM is a key factor.

Teresa Meadows – RE cereals products and premiums from IPM – As Caroline has said, there are examples of premiums on cereals produced to a different standard, but IPM often as part as a suite of other areas, such as soils, water, biodiversity etc. The only IPM logo’s that I have seen to-date have been in the horticulture or other sectors and haven’t necessarily been very successful on their own. Is this something that we should be looking at further? Opportunities to look at going forward, but retain integration across the wider farm system.

Caroline Drummond – you should be buying British apples instead! Joking apart though there is real opportunity for growing plastics – such as the use of potato starch – we used to wrap our fish and chips in newspapers – now we wrap our newspapers in potatoes!

Murray Smedley – UK HSE have not commented on the use of EU data. The Data Owner can submit wherever they wish. We would we hope EU data can still be used for GB Authorisations/EAMU’s ‘s


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